The Power of Deliberate Breathing

The Power of Deliberate Breathing

breathingblog

Today many people around the world speak of stress being an expected part of daily life. We all are familiar with work stress, deadlines, financial stress, relationship stress and many other stressors in our daily lives. Biologically, our bodies are prepared for stress. We have heard of the state of being called “flight or fight” often described as a situation in which we face something extreme and somehow gather strength and speed. This reaction is known as the stress response. Your body is designed to do it automatically when it perceives danger and is preparing to confront or avoid it.

The stress response is an incredible gift, that definitely reminds us of the incredible brilliance in the design of the human body. The fact is, the stress response is not something that we are supposed to encounter on a daily basis. Our bodies were not designed for that type of living. Trouble begins when this response is provoked every day. The results we see when it is a daily occurrence are high blood pressure, a suppressed immune system, anxiety and depression.

Being that so many people now acknowledge they do experience high levels of stress, or any level of stress every day, it is now truly a necessity to learn techniques to counteract that stress and help our bodies help us. One way to do that is to learn techniques that create a relaxation response. The relaxation response is a state that can be elicited through many activities including yoga, meditation, and deep breathing techniques.

Benefits of Deep Breathing

According to Harvard Health deep breathing goes by names such as diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When you are taking deep breaths you can feel the air coming in through your nose and fully filling your lungs and your lower belly rising.

Most of us do not take deep breaths. As we grow older, our environment is more fast paced, we often take shorter, quicker breaths all day. In addition in todays culture body image is important to many. As a result people tend to hold in their stomachs and create a flat or muscular stomach area. By the time we are teenagers moving into our twenties we are so used to more shallow breathing, we begin to believe that when our chest rising we have taken a good healthy breath.

When you take a breath that only makes your chest rise you are compromising your immune system. You begin to increase tension and anxiety. In addition shallow breathing limits the diaphragms range of motion. Your lungs lose the benefit of expanding and stretching and your cells lose the oxygen levels that help them maintain optimal health.

There are many relaxation and breathing exercises that can facilitate your body having a relaxation response. One of the techniques we use is called Deliberate Breathing.

Deliberate Breathing has an incredible impact on your immune system, and your mental and physical health overall. Studies have shown some of the benefits are; reduced anxiety and depression, stabilized blood pressure, increased energy levels and decreased feelings of stress and overwhelm.

Two Easy Steps for Deliberate Breathing

Focusing on breathing helps you concentrate and aids in decreasing distracting thoughts and pain among many other benefits.

Step 1– Take a deep breath in through your nose, and when you think you have taken in enough, take in some more. You should feel your lungs expand and see your lower stomach rising. Count from 1-5 as you take the in the deep breath of air.

Step 2– Breathe out through your mouth, slowly and deliberately.  As you are breathing out count down from 7-1.

In order to make this helpful for you and your mental and physical well-being you need to do this deliberately for a length of time. You can go take a five minute break during your day and do Deliberate Breathing. You may want to begin a meditation or yoga routine both will have some type of breathing process involved in the practice, often varying based on the instructors training. If you are going to   choose to do Deliberate Breathing create a routine that allows you to it for at least 30 minutes a day, it does not have to be consecutive time. The key here is focusing on your breath and counting which gives you some stress free time and your body more of the oxygen it requires to reach optimal health.

 


References

Havard Medical School. Harvard Health Publications. January 2015

 

5 Ways Meditation Can Help You

 

5 Ways Meditation Can Help You

5 Ways Meditation Can Help You

During the last few years many people reach out and ask me  about meditation. Meditation is a practice that once was perceived as being for those who are spiritual. Today more people are becoming aware of the benefits. Now that scientific studies have documented benefits in health, increased attention, decreased depression and anxiety and over all positive shift in emotional well being, it seems many people are exploring and loving meditation.

Today, even though scientific research is somewhat still new in the area of meditation, there is a bit of neuroscience research on the topic. “There is evidence that shows meditation, specifically mindfulness meditation might cause neuroplastic changes in the structure and the function of the brain in regions involved in regulation, attention and self-awareness.” Yi- Yuan Tang, Holzel and Posner.

Throughout the last decade studies have involved neuroimaging of the brain. Over 20 studies have been done by different people. Thus far the studies consistently support that at least eight brain regions are consistently altered in the images from people who meditate consistently. The areas are responsible for processing, abstract information, tactile information such as touch, pain and body awareness, memory, emotional responses, attention, and self-control. There are other areas that reap benefits as well, however the terms and information related to those areas are more biological and scientific. The focus here are the benefits in the areas many people often seek assistance with such as attention.

Today my clients share benefits they notice in their own lives that they personally believe is a direct result of beginning each day with meditation. There are many wonderful results I hear and see daily when I work with my clients. Five of the results many of my clients share consistently are listed below.

1- Improved Concentration
2- Increased Attention
3- Increased Academic Success, or Learning Rate
4- Improved Memory Functioning
5- Improved Mood and Self Image
Meditation is a practice you can do anywhere. Inside, outside, alone, with others. This year I have more and more children and families in meditation groups and classes. In the last five years I have many men and many children in meditation programs. Regardless of age, or need, or gender, or money, it is one technique that helps everyone who chooses it consistently.

This month we will explore different types of meditation including, silent meditation and guided meditation. If you would like to learn more about meditation feel free to look at our 21 Days of Meditation program  called Tapping In.

Meditation for Children

Meditation for ChildrenMeditation helps children improve focus, feel positive, increase success in academics and have healthier relationships

Everyone loves the idea of living a stress free life. When I refer to everyone, this includes children. Teaching children meditation is something that is becoming wide spread across the country. Children show improvement in concentration, confidence, problem solving and coping skills.

Today children have a tremendous amount of information. The news is graphic. Schools all over the world report a rise in bullying in schools and cyber bullying online. Statistics collected by National Association of School Psychologist and various mental health agencies all indicate as children appear to be experiencing more stress and anxiety in their daily lives, mental health services and programs are experiencing severe cuts and decreases in their resources and ability to serve as many children and families.

Meditation is a tool that benefits both you and your children. There is no financial cost to learning it or teaching it to your children. You only have to decide it is something you would like to do and then set a time that you do it each day.

Research has shown that mediation is a technique that has tremendous benefits for everyone, when they do it everyday. There are long lists of documented benefits are in several areas. Below are just a few that are helpful for many people.

Emotional Well-Being

1- Decreases anxiety and impulsivity

2- Improves self-esteem and confidence

3- Decreases risk behaviors such as trying drugs and alcohol

4- Increases positive social connections

5- Improves mood and overall intellectual functioning

Biology and Brain Function

1- Increases memory retention and recall

2- Improves overall cognition

3- Improves Creative Thinking

4- Improves attention and focus

5- Lowers blood pressure

6- Helps reduce anxiety, depression and pain

The impact of having mediation in your daily routine is a positive one in mind, body and soul. Five years ago I began teaching meditation to children with attention difficulties as well as children with anxiety. The results are incredible. This year I began doing mediation with families. This too has been an incredible experience.
Teaching children meditation is easy. Children try something and if it feels good, they know it and choose it again. However, meditating with children each day requires a bit of a different approach than you may do in your meditation as an adult. Children are always in this beautiful state of wonder. They are curious and they learn quickly. If you would like to introduce your children to meditation you are going to have to use some techniques to help keep it interesting and fun.

Three Tips for Teaching Children

TIME. Adults who practice daily meditation tend to have a routine that is approximately 20 minutes in length. Children should have a routine that  lasts in minutes the same amount of time as their age. If they are five years old, the meditation may be only five minutes long.

FUN. There is no need to define or describe what meditation is or feels like to a little one. Invite them into a game. Lets sit with our eyes closed and count our breaths in and out. Ask them to listen for the timer on the cell phone to go off. When it goes off they can take the phone and play a game. The activity is quick, the counting allows them to be present. You cannot allow external stimuli in if your eyes are closed and you are counting. The alarm ringing is fun and the technology time is usually rewarding.

At a young age the meditation is helping with stillness and focus. As children grow you can add deliberate breathing, and reflect how they feel while they are still during the time you are meditating together. Children quickly recognize they feel better. They will even begin to choose to do it when they feel they need to calm down or focus.

FOCUS. A large part of mediation is focus. Focus and be present. This means stopping the random thoughts that take over in your mind and distract you. To help children learn this you can provide them a point of focus. They can count the tick-tock of a clock and you both can see when the time is up if you get the same number. You start the clock and set an alarm. When the alarm buzzes you state how many tick- tocks you heard. Listening for a sound and counting is one way to train the mind to focus, and force the mind to be present, and be still. It is a wonderful, fun way to begin learning meditation.
If you would like to learn more about mediation you can look at Tapping In our 21 Day Mediation Program. The program is deigned for beginners and experts. You can connect with like minded people and see progress towards your current life goals.